From Athens, Greece and founded in 2000, Planet of Zeus are a four piece: Babis Papanikolaou (vocals/guitars), Stelios Provis (guitars), Giannis Vrazos (bass) and Serapheim Giannakopoulos (drums). They describe themselves as Heavy Rock/Southern Rock/Metal and this is their fourth album.
Well, that’s interesting. Much of the Stoner Rock/Metal has been removed for this current album. So what does this quartet sound like now? Stranger than Stoner Rock. Title song Loyal To The Pack retains some of the characteristics of their earlier work with the psychedelic/Spaghetti Western (I’m not making this up and yes it does work…sort of) infused workout in the middle of the tune but the main bulk of the tune is centred on driving riff which dominates throughout – no expense is spared. This is a song worthy of note for this album as it thunders along but what follows it up is a bit weird. Were we expecting another helping of guts and glory argh!!? Well, tough because you’re going to have to listen to a commercially tinged number, Devil Calls My Name is definitely not in keeping with the promise of the opener. Basically, it’s nice. And this is followed up by another nice song, Them Nights is MOR hell. At least the chorus saves this one but it is hardly shake-your-head-and-let-loose stuff. Oh dear. But wait a moment, what’s happening now? Groove, dirty guitar, a Funk’N’Roll riff? It must be Little Deceiver. Yep, that’s tune number four. Now we’re back onto something more solid and this sails along with no problem even though this is so familiar you’d swear this existed some ten or twenty years (at least) ago. But this gets the album moving again. Continuing with the vintage vibe, Your Love Makes Me Wanna Hurt Myself settles for something with a bit of a snarl to it. Planet of Zeus make a meal of this song, throwing everything into they can into it including a tasteful solo which spices up the Heavy Southern Boogie flavour. Retreat is a slow Blues, indulgent and luxurious, reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Beautifully balanced and soulful, it is restrained right to the end but its underlying power keeps it going. An underplayed gem. Sea Bastards: sailing the seven seas for a good tune. This song seems to have been set adrift – tune and lyrics not really coming together to create something meaningful and lasting. The vintage approach works well though, just not very piratey. Although, White Shroud keeps the vibe going, it does far better and ties in well with the first impression of this album although is less raucous. And then Scum Alive returns us to the opener in style and execution – but to have waited until the ninth song to provide proper action is bad – they let loose and get in your face with this one just like Loyal To The Pack. Indian Red is a rather nice slow Heavy Blues number building from quiet and contemplative to big and epic. Ultimately, this sounds very familiar when more could have been made of such a well used formula. The closer, Athens, sounds so modern after such a classic approach – a simple riff played over a sonic backdrop that builds and builds and in fact you wouldn’t believe that this instrumental is about 4 minutes. This is such a stand-out tune and you wonder how this came into existence as much as how it got onto the album.
The disappointing thing about this album is the lack of direction. A collection of songs written and performed by a group doesn’t make a great album. If Planet Of Zeus are looking for something new to deliver then they needed to make a definite choice and stick to it, instead this is an album which will decide what album five sounds like based on the downloads of individual tracks as much as critical feedback. There are some great moments but they are few but when Planet Of Zeus hit their stride they put in a fine performance.
Classic Greek Metal group return with a new album and a few directions.